Global investment hub aim remains

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob (File pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pic) is urging corporate Malaysia to find innovative ways to spur investments as the country prepares to once again become a global investment hub following its near two-year struggle with the Covid-19 crisis.

Ismail emphasised that Malaysia offered one of the most conducive environments for business communities to invest.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we must steer up our courage by finding creative and innovative methods to encourage investments. One of the most successful methods is through active vaccination programmes, initiated by the government in enabling a safe environment for investors.

“As a result, Malaysia is now ready to be back on track as an investment hub for both regional and international markets,” he said in his pre-recorded keynote address at the Invest Malaysia 2021 Virtual Series 1 yesterday.

Ismail emphasised that Malaysia, being a multiracial country, had the unique advantage of providing investment opportunities to a wide range of investors.

“Different races would need a different set of necessities. This means more products and services are potentially marketable in this country.”

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said Malaysia was on the cusp of recovery, driven by the National Recovery Plan (NRP), the upcoming Budget 2022 and recently announced 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

Tengku ZafrulTengku Zafrul

“Via the NRP, we have begun seeing the green shoots of recovery in the wider economy such as a stronger gross domestic product growth in the second quarter of 2021, including a 40.1% and 19.8% growth in the months of April and May 2021, respectively.”

He added that improvements were also seen in the labour market, with unemployment improving to 4.6% in August 2021 from 5.3% at the height of the pandemic.

“There was an increase of 6.8% year-on-year in the manufacturing sales value to RM126.5bil as at August 2021. There has also been an uptick in trade activities, including a 23% year-on-year increase in exports to RM97.3bil as at last month.

“There was also continued attraction of high-value, high-tech investments, including RM107.5bil in foreign direct investment and domestic direct investment in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors in the first half of 2021. This was a near 70% increase over the same period last year.”

Commenting on the upcoming Budget 2022, which will be tabled on Oct 29, Tengku Zafrul said the focus will be on speeding up recovery, strengthening economic resilience and catalysing reform.

“Like Budget 2021, we have mapped our budget initiatives towards sustainable development goals and we will continue to do so in Budget 2022.

“Financial assistance will also remain ongoing for those most impacted, especially the B40 group, the unemployed and the vulnerable.”

Additionally, Tengku Zafrul said support for businesses would remain steadfast, be it via affordable financing schemes, better access to credit or grants, so as to support operations while pivoting them towards increased automation and digitalisation.

“There will be increased focus on sustainability and improving the resilience of our environment and water assets, following increased focus towards environment, social and governance (ESG), net zero emissions targets and further development of our circular economy.”

He added that the government would improve the labour market by, among others, focusing on hiring incentives in addition to subsidising wages.

“We will also be enhancing fiscal prudence by improving the government’s procurement and debt management process, while enhancing tax enforcement measures.”

With regards to the 12MP, Tengku Zafrul said the plan’s immediate priorities would be to catalyse growth, narrow existing socio-economic disparities and ensure environmental sustainability.

“It will also focus on upholding national security and sovereignty, as well as solidifying national unity.

“Overall, the plan will target growth of between 4.5% and 5.5% per annum, resulting in a gross national income per capita of more than RM57,000 by 2025, while regaining full employment.”

Separately, Tengku Zafrul also announced the public listed companies (PLC) Transformation Programme (PLCT), which aims to deliver a high-performance corporate Malaysia.

Spearheaded by Bursa Malaysia, he said the initiative would focus on enhancing the five pillars within the PLCs.

The pillars are for the PLCs to be performance driven; to grow as sustainable, socially responsible and ethical organisations; feature strengthened corporate governance; to be digitally enabled; and to be able to support the nation-building drive to advance the Malaysian economy and community.

Tengku Zafrul said the PLCT will run from 2021 to 2025.

“It will see our PLCs progress in numerous areas, including building a stronger financial position and enhancing their board composition, thereby better positioning them to contribute to the national agenda.”

He said the monitoring of PLCs’ efforts and progress will be shared via a digital dashboard, so as to promote transparency and effective achievement of the intended outcomes.

“Throughout the programme, support by industry champions and corporate leaders will be vital. Therefore, I urge all of our PLCs to support this programme to improve our corporate Malaysia, our capital markets and our economy.”

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